Exploring Bolivia’s Laguna Colorada

 In Bolivian biodiversity, Travel Bolivia, Travel South America, Wildlife Bolivia

Picture this scene: you’re standing on the shores of the “Red Lagoon”, or as the locals call it, Laguna Colorada. The water shimmers with a vibrant crimson hue, framed by the snow-capped peaks of the Andean highlands.

Laguna Colorada isn’t your average lake, this stunning shallow salt lake is renowned for its striking red hue. Add to that the backdrop of rugged mountains, and you’ve got yourself a masterpiece of Mother Nature’s design.

But wait, there’s more! Laguna Colorada isn’t just about stunning views. It’s also home to a colorful cast of characters, namely flamingos. Yes, you heard that right – flamingos! Imagine these stunning birds, proudly displaying their beauty in the shallow waters, their vibrant pink feathers standing out against the red backdrop.

Come join us as we explore the beauty of Laguna Colorada and find out why it’s a destination you shouldn’t miss.

Flamingos lagoon by Janeth Charris

Why the red color?

Laguna Colorada, or the “Red Lagoon,” derives its name from the striking crimson hue of its waters that shifts between deep blue and dark red. Despite folklore suggesting that the water is the blood of Gods, the bloody vivid coloration is in fact caused by a combination of sediments and algae. Some tiny plants and algae in the water also add to the redness, making it look like blood, and creating a mesmerizing contrast against the stark landscape of the Andean highlands. This draws people from all over the world to see it. As you stand on the shores of Laguna Colorada, you’ll be awestruck by the sheer beauty and serenity of this remote oasis.

Even though it’s huge, covering about 15,000 acres, it’s not very deep – only about one meter. The water is really salty, and you can see small bright white islands of a mineral called borax, scattered across the lake’s surface, making it even more special. It’s one of Bolivia’s unique places, like the famous Uyuni Salt Flats, and it’s one of the coolest colorful lakes in the world.

Flamingos and Wildlife

One of the most enchanting aspects of Laguna Colorada is its wildlife, particularly its resident flamingo population.

Three species of flamingos – the James’s flamingo, Andean flamingo, and Chilean flamingo – call this lake home, creating a spectacle of color and grace against the backdrop of the red waters.

The James’s Flamingo is very rare and only lives in the high Andean plateaus. Back in 1956, people thought they were gone forever, but they were rediscovered. That’s why Laguna Colorada is considered one of the coolest places on Earth – it’s not just beautiful, it’s also home to some seriously special birds!

Visiting Laguna Colorada offers a rare opportunity to observe these majestic birds in their natural habitat, as they feed and breed in the nutrient-rich waters of the lake. Flamingos flock here for the abundant supply of plankton. Keep your camera ready as you watch the flamingos gracefully wade through the shallows, their vibrant plumage shimmering in the sunlight.

Other animals which can be found in the area around the lake include llamas, alpacas and Andean foxes.

vicunas Altiplano Boliviano by Carolyn

When to Go

So, when’s the best time to experience all this beauty? You will find flamingos all year round, in the winter months (between May and October) is when the weather’s more stable with clear skies and very little rain so the water levels in the lake are lower. If you want to see more flamingos you should come during the summer (rainy season, December through April), this is the ultimate flamingo fiesta, as the lake is packed with them at this time of year. The birds are most active and the breeding season (early November) is in full swing. Trust us, it’s worth it. During the rainy season you may also have the opportunity to see Salar de Uyuni flooded and resembling the world’s largest mirror. However, please note that weather conditions can be unpredictable, so it’s always a good idea to check with us before planning your trip.

👀 Curiously, the flamingos are naturally white; they look pink because the red algae stains their feathers. Would you like to know about the flamingos? Check our post about these high altitude flamingos near Salar de Uyuni.

Getting there

Laguna Colorada is nestled in the southwest corner of Bolivia’s altiplano, close to the border with Chile. Perched at a breathtaking altitude of 14,000 feet, this natural wonder is an integral part of the majestic Andean Mountain Range, inside the Eduardo Avaroa Natural Reserve.

Laguna Colorada is  located just a few hours’ drive from the Uyuni Salt Flats. Its captivating beauty is sure to create lasting memories.

So, why wait? Ruta Verde is known for traveling with comfort, ease and safety. Get tailor-made travel experiences that cover all your specific preferences. Reach out to us now and book a 2 or more day salar de Uyuni trip, which include stops at the Uyuni Salt Flats, Laguna Colorada and other highlights of the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve.

It is also possible to start a tour in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.